With Star Wars 1313, LucasArts is boldly going where no development team has gone before: the seedy underworld of the capital of a galaxy far, far away. "Star Something" references aside, Star Wars 1313 is a mature, or at least violent game that is astoundingly gorgeous.
That Star Wars Feel
LucasArts is being assisted by other LucasFilm subsidiaries, Skywalker Sound and Industrial Light and Magic, as it develops the game, and this collaboration is probably what we have to thank for the slick visuals and distinctive audio. Also, 1313 is being pitched as a mature game, though it remains to be seen whether the team's definition of mature themes extend beyond simple violence. So far we've only been introduced to two men, a smarmy, experienced bounty hunter and the cocky player, the latter of which may or may not look the same once we see the game again as the protagonist's model is not final yet.
The pair board a rustbucket of a starship as the first man tells our hero about where they are headed. That is, of course, level 1313, deep beneath the surface of Coruscant. The dialogue is heavy on foreboding about level 1313. At first, I thought it a bit heavy handed, but then I remembered that this is Star Wars. That's not a knock: Star Wars has always been aided by its dramatic language in telling an epic story. In this sense, the game seemed true to form, even if we know nothing about the story outside its setting.
The music and sound effects were extremely evocative as well. The music is Star Wars through and through. I had chills listening to the transport cross the surface of Coruscant as the familiar hum of repulsor engines reverberated through the speakers.
The visuals are jaw dropping as well. Hyperbole, this is not: Star Wars 1313 meets or exceeds the visual fidelity of this generation's best looking games such as Naughty Dog's Uncharted 3. Animations were fluid and natural, and it was clear that there was special attention paid to facial animation. The faces look wonderful.
So, How Does It Play?
The gameplay also fell into Uncharted territory. By that, I mean, it seems to play unnervingly like Naughty Dog's classics, and anyone who played the Uncharted trilogy will be at home here..
The set piece of the demonstration was a confrontation with a group of pirates. The pirate ship tethered itself to the transport our heroes are on, using thermal charges to blow a hole in the side the ship. This was a chance for 1313 to show how it handled dramatic moments: the force of the blow knocked both men clear across the room, with the camera dropping to the floor and showing another round of impressively detailed facial animation as the pair worked through the pain.
The pirates started streaming through the hole in the ship. A firefight broke out immediately. The protagonist's blaster fired blue bolts against the enemies red. The sound the guns made was much more imposing than the usual blaster sound. It was beefier, and more satisfying, with a much more pronounced low end. The protagonist's compatriot fought dirty. As the two men pushed the invaders back, the companion character shoved one foe into an escape pod. He then tossed a grenade into the pod and jettisoned it in the direction of the pirate ship.
This set off an excellent sequence of its own: the escape pod blew an extravagant hole in the second ship's hull, and our heroes threw themselves through it. As the player's character struggled to platform across the disintegrating ship the demo concluded. Once the sequence ended, it left the crowd with us in the room in silence.
Our immediate thought? All we wanted, derivative design or not, was more.